Rutger Hauer Explains Why Blade Runner’s Roy Batty Isn’t The Bad Guy In 1982 Video Interview

By David Wharton | Published

Any short list of the best, the most memorable, the most iconic villains of filmed science fiction has to include Blade Runner’s Roy Batty in the top five, if not at the very tippy-top. There are many reasons why. You’ve got the character on the page, courtesy of the screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples — adapting, of course, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? You’ve got the direction by Ridley Scott, guiding what in my opinion is the best movie of his career. And you’ve got the character as performed, brilliantly, by Rutger Hauer. That character is the topic at hand in the above 1982 interview with Hauer, wherein he discusses…er, he reveals how he…

I’m sorry, can we just stop for a second and acknowledge that shirt he’s wearing? Now I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…

Anyway, so back in ‘82 Hauer was interviewed by one John C. Tibbetts. When the interviewer offhandedly describes Hauer’s murderous replicant Roy Batty as the villain of the film, the actor objects. Instead, he sees Harrison Ford’s Deckard as the bad guy.

My idea of a villain is somebody who wants to do some nasty, bad things, and Harrison’s character…his motivation…he has to kill five Replicants, which we are, because they are sort of dangerous and they say they sort of found a spaceship and people got killed, but you never see that happen in the film.It’s just one of the stories they give you. [Replicants have] been given four years, and I’m enjoying life, and I want more than four. That’s the goal.

Of course, Batty does do bad things in Blade Runner, but Hauer touches on one thing that makes the character such a perfect screen villain. It’s been pointed out many times before that nobody ever really thinks they’re the bad guy, and when Blade Runner is viewed from the perspective of Batty and the other replicants, it’s hard not to be sympathetic. They were screwed over and given a programmed-in death date. They were sent to do bad things their creators didn’t want to deal with themselves. Now they want to confront the man responsible and they want him to fix it. And if he can’t, they want him dead. Frankly, I can’t guarantee I’d do otherwise in their shoes.

Compare that to Deckard. He’s told to kill the replicants. Full stop. Even if he’s not enthusiastic about the job, he never really questions it. It’s the job. It’s inherently cold blooded. After all, they don’t even call it killing. They call it “retirement.” Do good guys doing good things really need comfortable euphemisms like that?